Definition of circumlocution
1 : the use of an unnecessarily large number of words to express an idea had no patience with diplomatic circumlocutions
2 : evasion in speech circumlocutions concerning what constitutes torture
circumlocutoryplay \-ˈlä-kyə-ˌtȯr-ē\ adjective
circumlocution was our Word of the Day on 09/18/2015. Hear the podcast!
Examples of circumlocution in a sentence
He was criticized for his use of circumlocution.
I'm trying to avoid circumlocutions in my writing.
Did You Know?
In The King's English, grammarian H.W. Fowler advised, "Prefer the single word to the circumlocution." Alas, that good advice was not followed by the framers of "circumlocution." They actually used two terms in forming that word for unnecessarily verbose prose or speech. But their choices were apt; circumlocution derives from the Latin circum-, meaning "around," and locutio, meaning "speech - so it literally means "roundabout speech." Since the 15th century, English writers have used "circumlocution" with disdain, naming a thing to stop, or better yet, to avoid altogether. Charles Dickens even used it to satirize political runarounds when he created the fictional Circumlocution Office, a government department that delayed the dissemination of information and just about everything else.
Origin and Etymology of circumlocution
Middle English circumlocucyon, from Latin circumlocution-, circumlocutio, from circum- + locutio speech, from loqui to speak
First Known Use: circa 1518
CIRCUMLOCUTION Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of circumlocution for English Language Learners
: the use of many words to say something that could be said more clearly and directly by using fewer words
Learn More about circumlocution
See words that rhyme with circumlocution Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for circumlocution Spanish Central: Translation of circumlocution Nglish: Translation of circumlocution for Spanish speakers Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about circumlocution
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